Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) attended the Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels on Monday, where he called for a strong response to recent Russian actions in Ukraine. While in Brussels, he also attended a meeting of EU and Eastern Partnership (EaP) foreign ministers marking the 10th anniversary of the Eastern Partnership.
"The EU must stand together for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine," Reinsalu emphasized in his statement, according to a ministry press release.
"Russia's provocative actions in Ukraine speak for themselves. Russia's recent law for expediting the application for Russian citizenship for Ukrainians living in temporarily occupied territories in eastern Ukraine is more proof of their lack of interest in moving toward implementing the Minsk agreements," he went on.
According to the minister, a strong, rapid and clear response from the EU to Russia's actions in Ukraine is extremely important at the moment.
"Aggressors must face consequences," he said. "We must find ways to respond with tangible steps. The EU should not recognize passports issued by Russia in Ukraine, and in light of recent events, the expansion of sanctions should also be taken into consideration," he added.
During Monday's Foreign Affairs Council, the EU foreign ministers also discussed recent developments in Venezuela, issues related to Iran, and the situation in Libya and the Sahel region.
EaP countries making significant progress
Reinsalu also attended a meeting of EU and EaP foreign ministers marking the 10th anniversary of the partnership.
"Today we are celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Eastern Partnership," he said.
"During these years, the Eastern Partnership countries have made significant progress toward the EU, but we must move forward, keeping the political ambitions of the program high. We encourage Eastern Partnership countries to continue on the course of reforms, and we will continue to support them on this journey," he continued.
The Estonian minister highlighted the program's principle that countries have the right to determine their own futures. "Estonia supports enhancing the Eastern Partnership with countries that want to embark on a more ambitious course of integration, including political integration," he said.
The EU foreign ministers agreed that progress has been made in meeting the objectives for 2020 set out at the 2017 EaP summit, which was held during the Estonian presidency of the Council of the EU.
"However, Eastern Partnership countries should make additional efforts when it comes to including civil society, the rule of law, and legal reforms," Reinsalu added.
He reaffirmed that the EaP has been, and remains, a foreign policy priority for Estonia. "We will continue to support ensuring security, stability and prosperity in Europe's neighborhood, which is, above all, in the interests of the security of the EU itself," Reinsalu noted.
Editor: Aili Vahtla